New 'Community' producers face the Comic-Con fans: Live-blog
It's time for what could be the most interesting TV panel of Comic-Con, in which "Community" fans are placed in the same room as the NBC comedy's new showrunners, Moses Port and David Guarascio. Will the audience Q&A portion of the hour turn into a non-stop harangue of these men who would dare to fill the shoes of fired creator Dan Harmon? Will Port and Guarascio — who will be joined by stars Joel McHale, Yvette Nicole Brown, Gillian Jacobs, Alison Brie and Danny Pudi, plus returning writer/producers Megan Ganz and Andy Bobrow — be able to deflect any criticism in advance by pointing out that they had nothing to do with Harmon's exit, and insisting they want to keep making his version of the show? Or will their presence on stage turn out to be a minor sideshow compared to the chance for 4,000 fans to yell their love of the show's stars?
I'm going to be live-blogging the panel, with the caveat that the Convention Center wifi is iffy at best. Remember: just because you haven't seen an update in a while doesn't mean I'm not still typing. I will update this thing as often as I can during the hour.
9:53 a.m.: Many fans were reportedly in line for Ballroom 20 last night, as both this panel and the "Firefly" reunion one in a couple of hours could have easily filled the larger Hall H. I'll be curious to see what percentage of the room is people who came here specifically for "Community" versus those who just wanted to secure a seat for "Firefly," but it's not hard to imagine a good deal of overlap between those two fan groups. Room is still filling up. Won't be empty seats anywhere.
10:00 a.m.: Lights down for a promo about the move to Friday, another remix like the Biblioteca one. The word "anus" is prominently, repeatedly featured.
10:03 a.m.: Video ends on Troy and Abed saying, "You tried to destroy us, but only made us more awesome!" Crowd goes nuts. Moderator Mike Schneider leads the crowd in a "six seasons and a movie" call and response. Definitely not just "Firefly" fans in here.
10:07 a.m.: Gillian Jacobs in a bright yellow dress is overwhelmed by the size of the crowd. (This is the show's first time in Ballroom 20 after two years in the smaller Indigo Room.) She's followed by Danny Pudi, producer Russ Krasnoff. David Guarascio enters to more muted applause than others, but no boos that I could hear. The crowd loves Alison Brie. Moses Port gets same response as Guarascio. Joel McHale races out in front of the table to show his butt off to the adoring crowd. Yvette Nicole Brown blows kisses, while Pudi, Jacobs and Brie keep dancing to the techno beat. Writer/producer Megan Ganz gets extra applause for wearing a "SAVE THE CAPE" shirt, while Andy Bobrow is wearing a "CRISIS ALERT!" shirt.
10:08 a.m.: Schneider: "Moses and David, it's going to be okay, right?" Guarascio: "A couple of months ago, we were a lot like you: just huge fans of the show who thought it was one of the most special things on television. Suddenly we're here, helping to keep it going. The only thing we care about is keeping it this weird, wonderful gem that it's always been. That's not gonna change."
10:09 a.m.: McHale thanks the fans for helping get them to a season four: "Your flashmobs and your fake beards and your blood sacrifices" made it "the greatest fanbase that any television show has ever had in the history of television. So if we do get canceled after 13 episodes, I blame you."
10:10 a.m.: Guarascio, by the way, gave the only answer he could give under the circumstances. Let's see what happens when we get to Q&A. As the discussion continues, Joel and Yvette both hope for more of Jeff and Shirley together.
10:11 a.m.: Joel notes "My character got accidentally high a lot" in season 3. "I hope that happens a lot more." But he thinks this is the first time Jeff actually likes the group and cares about them. Says we will finally meet Jeff's father. Claims Eddie Murphy will be playing the role: "Pluto Nash himself!" (Yvette: "Love you, Eddie!")
10:12 a.m.: Danny talking about the rifts in Troy and Abed's relationship in season 3. Says when one left the other hanging on a high-five, "It was the most heartbreaking thing we've ever done on 'Community.'"
10:15 a.m.: Alison on Annie as Troy and Abed's roommate: "Over three years, we've witnessed the de-evolution of Annie." Thinks Annie has really lightened up a lot in that apartment, even if she's less mature as a result. She tries a "Troy and Abed and Annie in the Morning!" jingle, and Danny shuts it down. "What are you doing?" Krasnoff goads Brie, Jacobs and Pudi into doing a shimmy chair dance — with Chang-tongue!
10:16 a.m.: Gillian says Britta is still the worst, but "She inadvertently helps some people." She was disturbed to see Danny as Evil Abed approaching her with a bone saw.
10:18 a.m.: Gillian Jacobs says Dino Stamatopoulos, who plays Starburns is "the most reluctant actor I've ever met." But they left Starburns alive, just in case he wanted to come back. Actors admit season 3 had an incredibly high body count, start comparing it to "Breaking Bad," including the meth lab explosion that allegedly killed Alex.
10:19 a.m.: Yvette says, "We've been on the Twitters," is aware they've been on line all night. Also acknowledges that many of them are here to see "that Nathan Fillion guy" (wild applause at any mention of "Firefly," natch), but is glad they're here to see them too. Discussion turns to Shirley's purse. Yvette says she always carries her purse around, too. "I'm from the inner city of Cleveland, too. You just don't leave your purse."
10:20 a.m.: Who is Jeff always texting? Joel: "I'm just composing texts. I don't send them."
10:21 a.m.: Bobrow wrote "Pillow and Blankets," says everyone loved the original blanket fort episode and felt they didn't do enough with it. They also wanted to explore the Troy/Abed friendship "in a way that would be gutsy and true to the reality of the show, which is that Troy and Abed are wired differently, and as close as they are, there are bound to be some changes in Troy that won't be happening in Abed." Says the pillow vs. blanket war was actually an inside joke, because the fort from the conspiracy theory episode was originally supposed to be a pillow fort, but the production designers said it would be much faster and cheaper to use blankets.
10:25 a.m.: A clip reel of the actors' favorite season 3 moments. Scenes that get the loudest applause: Annie's sexy Santa song, a snippet of the video game, Pierce's blood spurting on Shirley in the darkest timeline and Jeff and Dean Pelton singing "Kiss From a Rose."
10:28 a.m.: Ganz wrote the "Law & Order" episode. She's been a fan of the show for 15 years, and scheduled college classes around the TNT rerun blocs. Says the idea had been pitched repeatedly in the "Community" writers room, not just by her, and they had to wait for the right time to do it. She feels she cheated because she got to do half an episode on (sing-song) "Troy and Abed solve a muuurder!" and then do another half on Jeff and Annie being lawyers. "And then there was just a bit of Britta." Joel says they should do an "SVU" episode next year. Ganz asks the crowd if there are any Jeff/Dean 'shippers in the audience.
10:29 a.m.: Port and Guarascio are asked about joining the show. Guarascio says the easy part is that they're fans of the show first, and observed it from afar and asked, "Wow, how do they get away with doing that? How amazing is that cast?" They joke that they do their own "Moses and David in the Morning" bit. "We understand the show deeply, and we love it, and we want to keep it the way it is." Acknowledges what Harmon has often said about how the fans influence the direction of the show, says, "Thank you, it's been a beacon." Port adds that they're not taking it on by themselves, they have the best cast on television, and several returning writers, stumbles over his phrasing, then says, "What I'm saying is, we're not going to screw it up."
10:32: Will Jeff graduate after his fourth year? Guarascio says there's a way to be true to the show to have the characters move at their own pace, where "the show can keep going even if they're not all at school at the same time." Their friendship now exists way outside the confines of Greendale.
10:34 a.m.: Yvette shows off the cover of the season 3 DVD, which comes out August 14. There will be commentaries on every episode, a featurette on the "Glee" episode, another on "Pillows and Blankets," deleted scenes and 20+ minutes of outtakes.
10:36 a.m.: We get a glimpse of the DVD gag reel, which opens with Alison and Yvette free-styling, Annie trying to seduce Abed, Chevy Chase and Donald Glover cracking each other up, an extra walking into a shirtless Joel, and more. Brie notes that Glover's not here today, but she's representing Childish Gambino.
10:39 a.m.: Danny offers to do the Christmas rap with Joel. He stumbles over a few lines, but recovers, passes it to Joel, who immediately violates the "no cursing on Comic-Con panels" suggestion on the back of everyone's name placard. Schneider asks if they can now play blue on Friday nights. Alison: "It gets crazy at 8:30!"
10:42 a.m.: Gillian wants to thank the fans for being "the reason we are sitting here right now and are coming back for a fourth season. I really hope that you know by now how much we appreciate you, how much we love every piece of fan art you send us online, how we love the videos you make on YouTube, the flashmobs, the online organizing, the art show we got to go to in LA." (Joel: "The hospital that has been built!") "We may not win Emmys, or even get nominated for them, but we win every single online poll we are up for, and that is because of you guys." She and Danny went to the Six Seasons and a Movie art show, was dazzled by all of it, thanks them again for helping get the fourth season.
10:46 a.m.: We just watched a video about the show's relationship with its fans. Schneider tells the fans to line up. At this point, we won't have time for a ton of audience Q&A. Hopefully, it won't be a "Chuck" season 4 panel-type fiasco.
10:47 a.m.: Schneider demands a little Batman voice from Danny. Danny-as-Batman: "Thank you fans. Thank you, Comic-Con. Four seasons and a porno. Six seasons and a movie. Abed is Batman now!"
10:48 a.m.: First fan question is the old chestnut about whether the actors went to community college. Yvette did back in Ohio, and "I wanted to shine a good light on what community college can be." Alison's mom taught at Pasadena City College, and she sat in on a few of her classes.
10:49 a.m.: Will Britta be playing role of psychologist more, "Because whenever you are around, my heart beats." Gillian fights back tears, then says, "Now that I've seen you, I know what a heartbeat feels like." Crowd roars.Gillian then goes to edge of the stage to high five the guy.
10:50 a.m.: Another Britta lover asks where they would see their characters ending up if this was the last season. Gillian: "Halfway house. She'd be doing pro bono psychology because no one would hire her or pay her a salary to do it. I think she would open a one-eyed cat shelter eventually." Danny: "I think Abed would probably run the AV department at Greendale." Alison: "Annie likes hospital administration, so I feel like she should graduate and jump over to Childrens Hospital on Adult Swim." Joel: "Armani Exchange." Yvette: "I think Shirley's going to work her sandwich shop, with or without Pierce."
10:53 a.m. A woman cosplaying as the fifth Inspector Spacetime, asks if they expected that to be as big a deal as the fans have made it. Ganz: "Who thought activating Doctor Who fans would do this?" Bobrow says the dangerous thing about Inspector Spacetime is they learned, "You don't have to actually make the show to get the fandom."
10:57 a.m.: Woman dressed as Nightcrawler from X-Men thanks them for portraying Asperger's in a wonderful way on television, and asks how Abed became a well-rounded character and not the butt of a joke. Bobrow says that's a credit to Danny for bringing the role to life. Ganz: "Danny has such a warmenss to him that even if he shuts off all his facial features, it just emanates out from him." Danny: "It's because I'm Indian." Danny doesn't really remember his first audition, but he was impressed by how well-written the character was even in the pilot script. He got nervous at one point and took out his lip balm, and they said, "Oh, that's great! Do that!" Danny also talks about the fake facial hair he's worn this season. He credits Harmon and the writers and directors for taking the time to make all the characters so rich. "They don't take it for granted, and so I'm ever thankful for the writing." Krasnoff says the goal was always to respect all the characters.
10:58 a.m.: The final question is about the payoff of the Beetlejuice running gag, and whether season 4 will have something similar. Beetlejuice was Ganz's idea, she noticed they'd said the word on the show twice, told Harmon, "We should be careful." She's impressed the fans actually put the puzzle together, and within a few days, it was up on YouTube. Ganz: "Because all the writers and actors are such fans of the show... the layering that happens like that, it will always be a part of the show. The cast is doing quotes on set. We are all loving it. Rewarding your viewership is going to keep happening."
11:00 a.m.: And that's all, folks. Guarascio and Port played it smart, it was all a lovefest, and now we get to see what their version of the show will be on Fridays at 8:30.
Come back at 3:30 Eastern for a "Firefly" live-blog.